sealPurdue Education Briefs

May 1996

Veterinary school treadmill gives leg up to horses, students

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Color photos and b-roll of a horse on the treadmill are available from Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2096. Ask for the photo called Treadmill/Couetil.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A new treadmill in Purdue University's School of Veterinary Medicine gives horses a running start on preventing injuries and allows students to use some of the latest equipment in high-tech veterinary medicine.

The treadmill is the most sophisticated, computer-controlled version of its type built to date, says Dr. Laurent Couëtil (cuh-TEEL), visiting instructor of large animal medicine at Purdue who is in charge of the treadmill.

"Basically, the treadmill allows us to detect lameness and respiratory problems in the equine athlete," Couëtil says. "The treadmill is a very safe tool that's been used for several years by other veterinary schools. It's the wave of the future for investigating the equine athlete's aptitude for performance and optimizing it. Ultimately, it can aid us in understanding and preventing athletic injuries to horses."

The treadmill is the heart of a new Equine Sports Medicine Center in the veterinary school. The purpose of the center is to diagnose, treat and research conditions unique to the athletic horse and to provide a laboratory setting for students in veterinary medicine and veterinary technology, says Dr. Hugh B. Lewis, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine.

About a half-dozen other veterinary schools, including Ohio State, Michigan State and Kansas State universities, have equine treadmills, but none is as sophisticated as Purdue's, Couëtil says. The Purdue treadmill is designed for use by both thoroughbred and standardbred race horses and any pleasure horse, Couëtil says.

What makes the Purdue equine treadmill unique, Couëtil says, is that it can be preprogrammed via computer with a standard exercise routine. That way, the horse's heart rate and respiratory rate can be observed with special sensors at specific speeds and inclines of the treadmill, and the same exercise routine can be repeated if necessary.

The treadmill and software cost about $73,000 and are made by SÄTO, a Swedish manufacturer. The veterinary school acquired them through private gifts from individuals and two equine organizations and through funds from pari-mutuel racing. State legislation passed in 1992 authorizing pari-mutuel racing stipulated that a portion of the proceeds support equine research at Purdue.

CONTACTS: Couëtil, (765) 494-8548; Internet,
Lewis, (765) 494-7608; Internet,

To receive the full text of a news release about this research, send an e-mail message that says send punews 9604f22 to

Purdue initiatives focus on teaching undergraduates

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue is recognized as a leading North American research university. But the university also prides itself on emphasizing and rewarding undergraduate teaching.

For example, Purdue recently named three faculty members to distinguished professorships primarily because of their marks as classroom teachers. They're the first distinguished professorships Purdue has created to recognize faculty primarily for their teaching abilities. Typically, distinguished professorships are based on a combination of teaching and scholarship, but traditionally scholarship -- or research -- has received more weight at virtually all universities.

"These three professors represent 'the best on the Purdue campus,' and the university is making it a priority to recognize exemplary teaching," says Robert L. Ringel, executive vice president for academic affairs. "The faculty members demonstrate the essential relationship between working at the cutting edge of one's discipline and the commitment to share knowledge with students."

As another example, about one-fifth of the university's proposed Excellence 21 initiatives are devoted to undergraduate teaching. Excellence 21, based on the Total Quality Improvement concept developed by Motorola, is a comprehensive program designed to build quality improvements among all departments and areas at the university.

The Excellence 21 initiatives include a School of Science proposal to improve retention of minority students through a summer program to help them make the adjustment from high school to college, and a School of Management proposal to enhance the writing skills and business communications skills of undergraduates.

Purdue also emphasizes undergraduate teaching with:

CONTACTS: Ringel, (765) 494-9709
George Van Scoyoc, associate executive vice president for academic affairs, (765) 494-0608; Internet,

Math degree may add up to career opportunities

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Learning mathematics provides the versatility and "technical muscle" needed in a wide variety of fields, says Carol Barrett, associate director of Purdue University's Placement Service.

The number of companies coming to campus to find mathematics graduates has risen by 20 percent during the past year. Students who combine a mathematics degree with computer science skills are especially in demand, she says. "Interested employers include high-tech companies and businesses such as insurance and consulting," she says.

Purdue math graduates have found jobs in banks, insurance companies, schools, business, industry, government agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Security Agency, and numerous other organizations. Professor Richard Penney says the problem-solving and computational skills acquired in mathematics can prepare graduates for a variety of creative and challenging positions in businesses ranging from aerospace and electronics to software and telecommunications.

Furthermore, graduate schools in law, medicine, engineering and other fields look favorably on the analytical skills of math majors, says James McClure, professor of mathematics. "Many of our graduates use their mathematics training as a springboard to advanced studies," he says.

Penney, who organizes two campus events each year to inform students, parents and teachers about career opportunities in mathematics, has posted further information on career opportunities in math on the Purdue Department of Mathematics World Wide Web page at

CONTACTS: Barrett, (765) 494-3981; Internet,
Penney, (765) 494-1968; Internet,
McClure, (765) 494-2719; Internet,

Girl's high-school athletics build better bones

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A color photo of female high-school athletes in training is available from Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2096. Ask for the photo called Bone Building/Teegarden.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Add accelerated bone-building to the list of benefits teen-age girls receive by participating in sports.

"High-school girls who are at least moderately active can increase the density of certain bones at a rate unrivaled at any other time in their life," says Dorothy Teegarden, assistant professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University. "Particularly the hip bone. That can be important, because hip bone fractures are one of the most common fractures among the elderly. An older person can suffer serious injury -- even death -- from breaking a hip bone weakened over time."

Teegarden and fellow researchers measured the mineral content and bone density in young women to determine how previous activity had influenced bone growth. Study participants were 204 minimally active women between the ages of 18 and 31. The women in the study reported their past and present occupations and activity levels.

"In our findings, no other physical activity affected the density of the hip bone, other than athletic activity during the high-school years," Teegarden says. The researchers found that athletic participation during high school increased the mineral content of the hip bone by about 7 percent. Teegarden says women who had participated in high-school sports increased their bone mineral content overall by 5 percent, and the only bone that didn't seem affected by high-school activity was the radius, an arm bone between the wrist and elbow.

The researchers found that even low levels of exercise helped to increase bone mineral content, with the amount of the increase depending on the age at which a woman was active. Teegarden says that based on their study, a woman can increase the density of some of her bones until she reaches age 21. She says bone size -- but not density -- can also increase in a woman until age 26.

Fellow researcher Roseann Lyle, associate professor of health promotion, says the type of physical activity didn't really matter. "We thought that weight-bearing exercise, such as running or playing basketball, would have more of an effect on bones than would sports like biking or swimming, which don't put weight on the bones," she says. "However, in our study, that wasn't the case."

CONTACTS: Teegarden, (765) 494-8246; Internet:
Lyle, (765) 494-3158; Internet:

To receive the full text of a news release about this research, send an e-mail message that says send punews 9604f2 to

Computers outnumber VCRs in students' rooms

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The computer age has come to university residence halls, with personal computers in about half of all student rooms and computer workrooms becoming as prevalent as television lounges.

At Purdue University, there were 4,261 computers in 6,500 student rooms this year, says Lanny Wilson, associate director of residence halls. Ten years earlier, there were 683 computers in student rooms. This year, student computers are more prevalent than videocassette recorders, answering machines or microwave ovens.

Other colleges and universities throughout North America are seeing similar growth in student computer ownership, says Mike Kinney of the Association of College and University Housing Officers International. Kinney says other universities, including Clemson, Maine and Massachusetts, also are reporting large increases in the number of students bringing their own computers to campus.

Any new student residence hall construction has to take computer connectivity into account, Wilson says. Purdue's Hillenbrand Hall, which opened in 1993, was built to provide high-speed Internet access to student computers. Most Purdue students can connect their personal computers to the university-wide network from their rooms by renting a data-over-voice device that allows their computer to use the telephone lines but does not interfere with telephone calls and is eight times faster than most modems.

CONTACTS: Wilson, (765) 494-1000; Internet,
Kinney, (614) 292-0099

Former engineering student turns to dance

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Color photo of James Austin dancing is available from Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2096. Ask for the photo called Austin/Students.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- He was attracted to Purdue University because of an interest in computers and engineering, but along the way James Austin's feet put him on a different path.

It was while Austin was studying acoustical engineering that this Memphis, Tenn., native got his first real taste of modern dance. "I did a little jazz dancing back home in clubs, which sparked my interest in taking a jazz technique class my sophomore year," Austin says. "This was the first time I was introduced to the more formal, structured style of dance."

Finding that he had a talent and aptitude for dance, he changed his course of study to sound and video production. "That way I could in some way incorporate my interest in acoustics with my newfound love of dance movement," Austin says. He will earn a degree at 8 p.m. May 10 during the first of four commencement ceremonies at the West Lafayette campus.

Although Purdue offers no major in dance, Austin has developed into an accomplished dancer. He regularly performs with the Purdue Repertory Dance Ensemble.

This spring he was asked to audition for a summer-school program sponsored by the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C. He auditioned at the request of the school director, who sought him out following the Purdue dance troupe's performance at a college dance festival. "I would not have considered the program otherwise. My group agreed to stay an additional night so I could make the audition," he says.

The Purdue ensemble also was selected to perform May 22 at the 1996 National American College Dance Festival Gala at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Following graduation in May, Austin's next step will be graduate school. He has been accepted to graduate programs at both the New York University's Tish School of the Arts and the Ohio State University Graduate School of Fine Arts.

"My plans are to earn my master's in fine arts and hopefully perform with some of the major dance companies in the country. I'd also like to use video to promote dance and dance ensembles," he says.

CONTACT: Austin, (765) 742-8894.

Compiled by Frank J. Koontz, (765) 494-2080; Internet,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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